A duo with design backgrounds create the perfect spa bath
Project: Brighten up an old bathroom, despite the lack of natural light, making the space feel bigger and spa-like.
Before: Kate and Jason thought they would eventually be priced out of the city until an apartment listing jumped out to them. It was a one-bedroom co-op in the Morningside Heights neighborhood of Manhattan. The couple and their dog, Baumer, moved in and immediately renovated the kitchen. “We took a couple of years to recoup before moving onto the bathroom,” said Kate. The bathroom was in rough shape. With no backsplash, the paint was peeling behind the cracked sink. The heat from a large steam pipe behind the wall rendered the medicine cabinet basically useless. “Hot toothpaste, anyone?” said Kate. The grout mosaic floor tile grout was impossible to clean. Kate described showering as a cramped, dark experience, the shower curtain blocking the room’s one source of light.
After: With both parties having design backgrounds (Kate in architecture and Jason in lighting design), the couple knew what they wanted. Kate ordered most of the materials to save money. Their general contractor, who they found through Sweeten, a free service that pairs homeowners with vetted contractors, went the extra mile and picked up many of those materials. Despite lacking windows, Kate wanted to “achieve the look of a spa, make the room feel bigger; I also wanted the space to be easy to clean and maintain.” She mixed bright whites—including modern, square tile—with a warm wood vanity and cabinet. They are hung from the wall rather than mounted on the floor, making the room seem larger. The glass doors in lieu of a shower curtain added to that optical illusion. Kate used a bright blue clock with matching towels and a yellow hand towel to personalize the bathroom’s look. “They are all temporary accents that can be replaced when our tastes change or if we move,” she said.
Bonus: To reduce the budget, the couple stayed in the apartment during the renovation. Friends who lived in the building let them shower in their apartment. “It did mean schlepping our shower basket downstairs and in the hallway, dorm-style,” said Kate.
Style finds: Bathroom floor tiles: Stone Source. Bathroom wall tiles: Floor & Decor. Cabinetry: Concept Baths. Hardware: Kwikset and Kohler. Sink fixture: Hansgrohe. Shower fixture: Hansgrohe. Shower doors: Kohler. Slide bar: Kohler. Toilet: Toto. Lighting: Kichler.
Tired of subway tile? Go square! Outfitting both baths with square tile, Pepper used white for a clean and simple approach in one bath and glazed aqua in another for a splash of color.
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